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Variety announces that WANTED director Timur Bekmambetov will direct a new version of MOBY DICK , which wouldn’t in and of itself, be of that much interest to a comics blog, except that everyone connected with the movie seems to be rushing to tell Variety that this classic tale of man, marine mammal, vengeance, and destiny is actually almost as good a basis for a movie as a graphic novel!

The writers revere Melville’s original text, but their graphic novel-style version will change the structure. Gone is the first-person narration by the young seaman Ishmael, who observes how Ahab’s obsession with killing the great white whale overwhelms his good judgment as captain.

This change will allow them to depict the whale’s decimation of other ships prior to its encounter with Ahab’s Pequod, and Ahab will be depicted more as a charismatic leader than a brooding obsessive. [snip]

“We wanted to take a graphic novel sensibility to a classic narrative,” said Collage.

Ah yes…that much prized “graphic novel sensibility.” Are the writers unaware that Bill Sienkiewicz already turned Moby Dick into a graphic novel?

Mobydick P10 Full

…and one that looked pretty damn cool.

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  1. “Ahab will be depicted more as a charismatic leader than a brooding obsessive”

    Thus destroying any thematic resemblance, or real relevance, to the actual classic of Western literature “Moby Dick.”

    Seriously, I know lots of things need to change for a book or a graphic novel to move from one media (print) to another (film). But the themes of the narrative need to remain intact or the film is a hack job. Changing Ahab’s nature in a film version of Moby Dick would be as stupid as making the the pudgy and slightly washed up Nite Owl of the “Watchmen” graphic novel into a ripped, svelte kickass Batman clone on screen. Oh, wait…

  2. and Mark Millar isn’t writing it?

    I’m not a big time comics creator or *superstar penciller* or gruffy web critic, I’m a teacher who teaches Moby-Dick, and reading your article made a part of me shrivel like that thing they found on Long Island.

    That being said, Bill’s version is excellent.

    gone is the first person???? TIMOR just made my all-time fecal roster.


  3. So have Will Eisner, Dick Giordano, and a slew of others… Sam Ita’s, granted, is more of a pop-up book, but it’s in the graphic novel section, and definitely has that aesthetic sensibility.

    Bleh, I can’t imagine a worse director/subject matter marriage. Why can’t Paul Thomas Anderson do it, or Peter Weir? Bleh.

  4. But…it’s not “Moby Dick” without “Call me Ishmael”. Dammit, I’ve wanted a new Moby Dick movie for some time, but…

    This is an opportunity to take a timeless classic and capitalize on the advances in visual effects to tell what at its core is an action-adventure revenge story.”

    WTF? They didn’t read the same book I did >:(

  5. Well, there was Sam Ita’s pop-up graphic novel (not the first pop-up GN, but very interesting).

    Will Eisner adapted it in 1998, and four years later, Lew Sayre Schwartz and Dick Giordano illustrated a more picture-book version.

    Saddleback has a “classicly illustrated” edition for schools, as does Barron’s, illustrated by Penkov Gelev. Bank Street, in partnership with World Almanac, has a three-feature volume, condensing the story into about ten pages, to be featured with Marco Polo and Gulliver’s Travels. (Don’t scoff… If you can condense the Ring Cycle into a six-minute cartoon, you can condense Moby Dick!)

    Acclaim reprinted the Louis Zansky adaptation from Classics Illustrated.

    And while any comics fan knows about Jeff Smith’s infatuation, how many have read “The Super-Moby Dick of Space” from Adventure Comics #332?

    From a cinematic standpoint, does this need to be remade? After Gregory Peck and Patrick Stewart and Ray Bradbury…

  6. What is a “graphic novel sensibility?” Does this mean their movie will look and feel like the work of Chris Ware, or Dan Clowes, or Alison Bechdel? I guess we’ll hear this sort of use of the phrase from Hollywood filmmakers, and maybe “graphic novel” will no longer mean “big long comic books for grown-ups” and start meaning “a movie that uses special effects like they’re used in superhero movies.”

  7. Torsten said:

    “And while any comics fan knows about Jeff Smith’s infatuation, how many have read “The Super-Moby Dick of Space” from Adventure Comics #332?”

    I did! I did!

    Not to mention a really bad HULK story done by Roy Thomas on a vague Moby Dickish theme. Perhaps not surprisingly, Thomas ended the story the way some bowdlerized versions of MD do, with his “Ahab” and “the Whale” dying together.

  8. I’ll definitely go to see this…as long as the great white whale kills Ahab’s son, causing Ahab’s eyes to bug out as he howls across the waves “DICCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCK!”

  9. I’m fully with Matt Kish on this one: it ain’t Moby Dick at all, with the entire point of the novel removed.

    But what I really want to campaign for is that we flag Bekmambetov for Night Watch and Day Watch, as I think Wanted is unfit to be named in his pedigree, craptacular as it was (for me).

  10. Are there any other Sienkiewicz Classics Illustrateds I don’t know about that I really ought to? Or like, some great Mike Mignola Hunchback of Notre Dame or something?

    Because as unlikely as that sounds, if you asked me yesterday if there was a Bill S Moby Dick out there, I probably would have said no.

  11. A graphic novel sensibility? While I think its interesting that, after decades of comic artists using cinematic terms to describe their work, we now have film makers referencing comics, having read their description of the film, I can’t help but wonder if they are using ‘graphic novel’ as a short hand for dumbing down.

    (PS – I need to dig out my copy of Sienkiewicz ‘s Moby Dick. It was great!)

  12. Yeah, the special effects thing is likely the sensibility in question. Likely we can expect to see a slow motion cgi whale with weird Baroque/Ridley Scott lighting smashing through ships to the Carmina Burana “Empress of the World” song, but with a techno beat.

    Personally, I can’t wait – it’ll obviously fill in the “edgy” void the novel so lacks.

  13. I fondly remember that amazing Sienkewicz adaptation, including the stunning two-page spread, done in chalks, of the whale’s tale retreating into the gloomy depths. By presenting only the compelling heart of the narrative, and leaving out nearly all of the incredibly boring digressions, it successfully fooled me into thinking that Moby Dick was a really exciting and awesome book. Boy, was I disappointed a few years later, when high school English rolled around…

  14. Moby Dick is not about whaling.
    Its about a gay dude and his trials and tribulations on the trails of life.
    people are not their jobs. It think the point here is lost.

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